Think outside the chocolate box for Valentine's Day this year

(NewsUSA) – With the wrapping paper and bows barely put away, stores across the country are already prepping for the next major event — Valentine’s Day.

Whether loathed by the lonely hearted or embraced by hopeful romantics, Feb. 14 can elicit everything from anxiety to optimism. And why not? It is the one day a year that expectations are high, and hope is in the air.

Unfortunately, men can be poor planners when it comes to this special day, and trying to please one half of a couple without breaking the bank can also be a struggle. Which is why, say experts, the most romantic day of the year tends to be anything but.

“The majority of men act like robots, purchasing flowers and chocolate for their sweethearts because that’s what everyone else is doing,” says Michael Webb, a relationship author. “Many people celebrate the day out of obligation rather than celebration.”

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Check out the following ideas to help jog the most uncreative mind to new heights:

— Consider the alternatives. Dinner reservations on Valentine’s Day require (sometimes) planning months ahead of time. If you haven’t already done so, a breakfast or brunch instead can be just as lovely. Besides being more inexpensive than dinner, it also allows for a full day of Valentine’s activities (planning still required).

— Attend to the little things. It’s been said that the devil is in the details, and never is this more true than on the most romantic day of the year. So, whether you’re fine dining or having an intimate dinner for two at home, candles, soft music and incense can create a memorable ambiance not to be soon forgotten on this day of dates.

— Make a romantic gesture. Romance doesn’t have to break the bank. A few special truffles to be enjoyed with a bottle of wine are far more inexpensive (and appreciated) than a large box of chocolates. Or rejuvenate your youthful spirits by going to your neighborhood park and playing on the swings and slides. Oh, and be sure to put the same effort into the evening to make it just as romantic.

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